By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Planning Board took the unusual move of voting again to approve a project, allowing for the Zoning Board of Appeals to re-hear the Charity Stevens Lane project before the two-year required minimum.
Generally, after a project is denied by the ZBA, the petitioners are not allowed to resubmit the project for two years, except for certain reasons. At its meeting in November, the ZBA rejected the project, but not on its merits. They rejected the project because they believed that they were required by law to make a decision within 65 days and they had reached the end of the time period. And, no one from the project attended the meeting to speak on it.
At the Planning Board meeting on 12/6, Steve Gioiosa of Sitec told the board that he believed there were significant aspects of the project that the ZBA did not know about that would have affected the vote, making it legally possible for the ZBA to re-hear the petition. But in order for that to happen, the PB needed to vote on it first.
He also said that the new plans present a “material difference” from the last plans. In addition to several changes in the site plan, Mr. Gioiosa noted that the ZBA did not have the information that the Planning Board and the Board of Health and OnHealthy Canadian Pharmacy had signed off on the project; and the Conservation Commission had not voted yet.
He said three things counted to allow the ZBA to re-hear the petition: A change in the roof runoff system and landscaping changes, the approval of the Conservation Commission Order of Conditions, and the information on the Title V septic system.
Town Planner and Economic Development Director Bill Roth added another reason that he believed the ZBA should re-hear the petition: The 65-day rule is wrong.
Mr. Roth said that the ZBA misunderstood that law. It requires that the matter be heard within 65 days of being submitted, not that it be decided. The ZBA then has 90 days after the initial hearing to vote.
The project is in the Nasketucket River Basin, so it requires a special permit from the ZBA.
Mr. Roth was adamant that the ZBA got it wrong, and he also questioned whether the proper notifications were made, saying he found nothing in the file to indicate that all proper procedures were followed.
Board members went back and forth trying to decide if there was a “material difference,” or if that even mattered, considering the missing information and the misunderstanding of the 65-day rule.
Abutter Mark Monteiro took the opportunity to again speak against the project, saying it would have an adverse effect on his property and cause a lot of flooding and drainage issues.
“I don’t see any major difference of what was presented all along the line here,” said Mr. Monteiro. “I don’t see it. A couple a trees. A couple of shrubs.”
In the end, the Planning Board decided that the ZBA did not have critical information when it did not have the ConCom vote, and that the changes were a “material difference,” so they voted to approve the repetitive petition. The petitioner now is free to resubmit the proposal to the ZBA at any time.
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